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Councillors praise ''great service for residents'' despite pandemic

The Leader of the Council has praised staff for their "remarkable performance" over the past year, adapting swiftly to the many challenges posed by Covid-19 and making sure that meeting residents' needs have remained a priority.

Councillor David Tutt made the comments after a report to Cabinet last night (July 14) that showed significant progress was made in 2020/21 towards achieving the council's goals set out in its four-year Corporate Plan, despite the town being in lockdown for much of this period.

Key achievements were delivery of £39.2m in grants to support Eastbourne businesses through the pandemic using a dedicated online portal; full refuse, street cleaning and recycling waste services continuing despite Covid-19; accommodating 148 rough sleepers in 2020; auditing ten public buildings and amenities for disability access resulting in improvements being made to promote inclusion of disabled people; publishing a strategy and plan of action to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030; opening a new visitor centre at the Welcome Building.

Councillor Tutt said: "It is no small feat to have achieved all this and more, at a time when Covid had turned the world upside down - but nevertheless we continued delivering our usual services plus extra efforts to care for the most vulnerable in Eastbourne.

"This was a remarkable performance from council staff who responded brilliantly to changes needed in their way of working and I thank them for their diligence and flexibility."

Cabinet councillors last night also welcomed a number of performance achievements during 2020/21 including the best annual performance for several years in processing new claims for housing and council tax benefits

Elsewhere, 89.1% of calls from customers were answered within 60 seconds, well above the 80% target, and processing times for all types of planning applications far exceeded targets.

In addition, 2,771 residents began following the council's social media channels over the year as a way of engaging with the council.

Councillor Colin Swansborough, Cabinet member for Place Services and Special Projects, said: "These are an impressive set of results which have taken hard work to achieve and show we really are continuing to provide a great service for residents while being as efficient as we can, despite problems caused by Covid-19."